When you’re thinking about business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR), you know you can’t protect yourself from every disaster – some circumstances are simply unimaginable. But you can mitigate potential damage by taking a few upfront steps to ensure your data remains safe and secure. Logicalis, an international provider of integrated information and communications technology (ICT) solutions and services, has developed a checklist of six tips to help prevent data loss.
“The most important thing you can do to mitigate damage in any situation is to know what the true business impact of data loss will be to your organization,” advises Joe Long, director of business continuity and storage solutions for Logicalis. “And no matter how experienced your IT department is, IT alone cannot define that. Those answers have to come from the individual business units within your company. That means, to develop a foolproof plan, you’ve got to get IT and the business units talking to each other.”
Click through for six tips on preventing data loss, provided by Logicalis.
Start with a clear understanding of what your company’s data means to your business and whether it can be easily duplicated or not. Imagine a retailer that loses orders due to a system failure. Even if that data can be reentered from a hard copy, how many man-hours will that take and what is the dollar figure for that recovery process? What if this is an online retailer and the orders were all placed electronically? Without the right BC/DR plan in place, those orders would be lost.
What is the Recovery Time Objective (RTO); how fast do you have to get your data back? What is the Recovery Point Objective (RPO); how old can restored data be for your company to function properly? If the data is gone forever, will there be a financial loss or regulatory repercussions? Consider the immediate implications: A stock trader who cannot access data for an hour could lose millions of dollars. A retailer that loses online orders must have them restored to an exact point in time. HIPAA-regulated organizations that lose patient data could face industry sanctions. Knowing what you’re up against will help you create a plan that works.
It’s impossible to imagine every scenario in which data can be lost, but you can identify the obvious possibilities. Are tornadoes or earthquakes commonplace in your area? Are there water pipes in the ceiling above your data center? Is it conceivable that a car from a nearby street or freeway could crash through your data center (it happened to one of Logicalis’ clients)? What about internal threats – disgruntled employees? Who has access to your data and what damage could they do? Every scenario imaginable should be explored and resolved.
Replicated data is safe, right? Not necessarily. Imagine a hacker that deletes your data in one center. The deletion is then replicated. Now that data is permanently lost. Your data is only as safe as the BC/DR plan you or your data storage provider has in place. Better to ask questions today than to be disappointed – or out of business – tomorrow.
You won’t know if your BC/DR plan works or not unless you test it. And don’t just test it once; as your business changes and grows, so does your data use, consumption and storage. Test often to be sure your plan works.
It’s a good idea to get a second opinion, particularly if you are relying solely on in-house people for your BC/DR plan. Experienced outsiders are unbiased and they bring a fresh eye to your solution, helping you identify holes in your plan before they become problematic. The key is to choose an experienced outsider – someone who’s “been there, done that” and seen a host of unusual and unimaginable circumstances so they can help you think about the unthinkable.